Do new roads actually help to eliminate traffic congestion? This is just one of the many questions critics are asking after Doug Ford’s government pledged new funding to build Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass, roads that Ford stated: “will drastically improve the commute of thousands of Ontarians.”
Also known as GTA West, Highway 413 is expected to cost a minimum of $6 billion and would extend 59 kilometres from Highway 400 in Vaughan to the interchange of Highways 401 and 407 connecting Mississauga, Milton and Vaughan.
The Bradford Bypass is a proposed four-lane highway that would connect highways 400 and 404 in the County of Simcoe and Regional Municipality of York.
This comes as no surprise to many as weeks ago, the Progressive Conservatives released a series of ads that revealed the party’s re-election strategy ahead of a June 2022 vote, one of which included the statement that the PCs are the only provincial party saying “yes, to building highways you can drive on, so you don’t sit in gridlock.”
“With Halton, Peel and York regions all set to grow at incredible speed, our government is saying yes to building the roads and highways that will keep these communities moving,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Highway 413 will create thousands of jobs while saving commuters hours of gridlock every day. This project is a key part of our plan that’s building Ontario.”
While the Ontario Government claimed that the construction of both Highways would aid in economic recovery by creating thousands of new jobs, the Liberal, Green, and New Democratic parties oppose the plan.
During a press conference, Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said Doug Ford’s government is building a highway that is a “mirage” as it creates no real relief for commuters.
“I don’t think this will provide people real relief from gridlock and it will take 10 years and a minimum of $10 billion to build. I don’t think it’s the right solution.”
In 2018, Ontario’s former Liberal government quashed the project after a panel concluded that the highway should not be built as it would save drivers only 30 seconds off their commute and increase carbon emissions.
The government continues to claim drivers travelling on Highway 413 will save up to 30 minutes per trip.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath who has long opposed Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass also expressed concern as the 413 would carve through sections of Ontario’s Greenbelt and pave over hundreds of acres of farmland.
“We need more public transportation. We need more opportunities for people to get out of their cars,” Howarth said recently during a news conference.
The Green Party, too, slammed the controversial highways. “The premier thinks the road to recovery from COVID-19 is paving over paradise,” said Party leader, Mike Shreiner.
While it has not been announced when construction would begin on Highway 413, the Bradford Bypass is scheduled to open in 2024.
An anti-Highway 413 protest sponsored by Environment Defence Canada was held in downtown Bolton on Nov. 13.